Dear Fallen-Away Catholics: 10 Things You Should Know About What You Left Behind

Dear Fallen-Away Catholics,

Perhaps you left the Church because you disagreed with some doctrine. Or maybe you just gradually stopped going to Mass. Or maybe it was some combination of the two. Either way, you’re gone, and we really miss you and wish you would come back.

I myself never really discovered Catholicism until my mid-teenage years. I was really a fallen-away Catholic right from the get-go because I come from a family of fallen-away Catholics. My attendance at Mass and CCD was very spotty growing up. Then, just when I was ready to completely leave the Church, I experienced a powerful conversion that changed my life through the grace of God.

I say this to highlight the fact that I have not always been a devout Catholic. In no way do I desire to talk down to you or judge you, because I know how you feel. I was there. With that out of the way, I present to you the top ten things I wish I had known about Catholicism earlier.

10. CCD doesn’t even scratch the surface. Remember those dull days sitting in a church basement while some catechist read boring stuff to you and you wanted to be doing literally anything else? Well, that’s not Catholicism. Oftentimes, parishioners are pressured into teaching CCD and they might not be super well-informed about the faith themselves. Further, the materials used in CCD don’t get to the juicy stuff. Our faith is not merely a moral system, which is what CCD often reduces it to. There’s so more to it. Dive in. For AP-level CCD, visit this site.

9. The secular world biases us. This happens subconsciously. How often do secular news sources take a certain slant on the goings-on in the Church? How often do teachers and even some textbooks reveal their own biases and opinions on matters regarding the Church? Pretty soon, you have this general sense that Catholicism is just plain wrong, but you can’t point to any super specific examples because everything happened so subconsciously. I know because that is precisely what had happened to me. Here’s a challenge: next time the Church is in the news, read a secular article about it from, say the New York Times, and then read an article about it from a Catholic news source, such as the Catholic News Agency. Note the differences in assumptions the articles make and the topics they choose to focus on, as well as general themes.

8. You are allowed to question Catholic doctrine. In no way do I intend to belittle Catholic doctrine. What I mean to say is that you can and should look into the doctrines. You’re smart and you want answers to why the Church teaches what she does. I didn’t realize the following for a long time: the Church actually has reasons for her teachings. Her teachings are not arbitrary. Explanations of Catholic doctrine are widely available all over the Internet. Another important corollary point here: it’s okay if you have trouble accepting a doctrine. You can’t just flip a switch and say, “Yes, I accept this wholeheartedly.” You could say that, but it might not be genuine. Just be open to the possibility that Catholic doctrine x is true. You deserve time to research, think, and pray about it. God gave you reasoning capacities and a conscience; you were made to seek Truth.

7. There are passionate Catholics out there. It seems like a lot of Catholics are not passionate about their faith. Beyond Mass, participation levels in parish life can be quite low. With this sort of atmosphere, one can start to wonder if there’s something wrong with Catholicism. I come from one of the most irreligious states in the country, and even I’ve been able to find passionate Catholics here. There are many Catholics who are truly on fire for their faith, and the impact Catholicism has had on their lives is incredible: you just have to look in the right places. Go to a retreat or a Bible study, or volunteer at your parish. You’ll find them.

6. You don’t want to make your spiritual journey alone. We live in the age of the “spiritual but not religious” movement. Those with this mindset reject organized religion and espouse a merely personal spirituality. Before I truly discovered Catholicism, I kind of had some sort of a spiritual life going on, and I didn’t think I needed an organization of some sort to help me achieve my spiritual goals. Then when I became an active part of my parish, I realized how much more progress I made when I was with others and under the guidance of the Church. When we want to make academic progress, we go to a college where we earn a degree by fulfilling the requirements of our institution and learning from those wiser than us. No one questions this. Likewise, when we want to make spiritual progress, we go to a church where we follow moral teachings to the best of our ability and learn from those wiser than us. Further, having Catholic friends will help you stay on the straight and narrow.

5. Priests are sinners too. Many Catholics left the Church because of the sex abuse scandals and the Church’s response to them. Indeed, these scandals were a dark point in the history of the Catholic Church, and my heart goes out to all the victims. Naturally, people wondered, “How can we be part of a church whose leaders are so corrupt?” The sins of the priests who committed these crimes certainly delegitimized Catholicism in the minds of many. I’d like to make an important point here: priests are sinners too. In no way does that excuse their behavior, but it make it clearer how Catholicism can still be legitimate even when certain clergy have made serious mistakes. The Church is run by humans, and humans mess up. We can’t look at our clergy as gods on earth because that’s not what they are. Priest confess their sins to their fellow priests, by the way. Pope Francis goes to Confession too. Also, a side note: according to this article from the Washington Post, about 4% of priests are sex offenders. Again, I’m not excusing any of their crimes, but also according to this article, this proportion is consistent with estimates of sex offenders in other similar fields and other religions. What I mean to say is, it’s inexcusable that sex abuse happens, but it’s not a problem limited to the Catholic clergy.

4. The Catholic Church, est. 33 AD. The Catholic Church is old. We have an extremely rich body of teachings that have been in the making for 2000 years. So many brilliant minds (St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us!) have been refining Catholic teachings for many, many years. Catholicism is “the original,” so to speak. Here’s how it went down: Jesus started His Church in 33 AD (but he didn’t call it that–it was the group of all his followers). The Church flourished an grew under an unbroken line of popes, beginning with St. Peter, His disciple. Then in 1517, Martin Luther decided the Church had been getting it wrong for 1500 years. (His disagreements went beyond the corruption in the Church at the time–that’s something your high school history class doesn’t usually mention. He disagreed with many intellectual points as well.) With Martin Luther came the Reformation, which saw the creation of various Protestant denominations that changed doctrines that had been in place since the earliest days of the Church. Basically, if you want to experience Christ’s Church as close as it was to when He started it, you need to be Catholic. (For more insight into what the early Church was like, I recommend the writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch (circa 110 AD), St. Justin the Martyr (circa 110-165 AD), and St. Irenaeus of Lyons (circa 140-202 AD), just for starters.)

3. Catholicism is *really* intellectual. Sometimes religion is viewed as childish because it seems to require adherents to blindly follow rules. Hopefully it’s become evident from my earlier points that this is simply not the case with Catholicism. We have a vast body of 2000 years of writings that explain why we believe what we believe. Some of these writings get into some really hardcore philosophy. To see what I mean, try reading St. Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica.

2. Mass is really exciting when you know what’s going on. Before I truly discovered Catholicism, what I hated most about the Church was the Mass. It seemed so boring! What I was really lacking was proper context. I didn’t understand that the whole Mass is really centered around the miracle of the Eucharist. I didn’t understand that the Eucharist is a miracle. I had no context for any of the Scripture readings. I didn’t understand that the Mass is centuries old. It was kind of like walking into a movie for the last 5 minutes and trying to understand what was going on.

1. The Eucharist IS Jesus. This is, I would say, the mosimportant Catholic teaching. And somehow, I never learned this in CCD. (As I mentioned before, CCD totally does not scratch the surface.) As Catholics, we believe that the Eucharist really is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. At communion, we are literally eating Jesus. Upon hearing this, this sounds repulsive and somewhat batty. How could we be eating Jesus if communion clearly looks like bread? And do we really want to eat Jesus? Doesn’t that sound like cannibalism? There is so much to say about the mystery of the Eucharist. And, as I’ve mentioned time and time again in this post, we have 2000 years of brilliant minds that have given us the resources to understand why we believe what we believe. Below I’ve compiled some of the resources on the Eucharist that helped me the most as I was learning about this sacred mystery.

How what looks like bread can actually be Jesus

    Summary: Using Aristotle’s metaphysical theories (which were in place long before the time of Christ), while the Eucharist has the accidents of bread and wine, their substance changes from bread and wine to the Body and Blood of Christ when the priest utters the words of consecration. Basically, the appearance of the bread and wine remains the same while what it actually is changes. 

The Biblical basis for the Eucharist

Summary: Jesus tells us to eat of His Body and Blood. When those listening to Him leave in response, He doesn’t stop them and say, “It was just a symbol!!” Instead, He repeats Himself three times. 

The Old Testament foreshadowing of the Eucharist

Summary: Jesus’s sacrifice mirrors the Passover sacrifice of the Old Testament. For Passover, Jews sacrifice a lamb and then eat it for the forgiveness of their sins. Likewise, Jesus sacrifices Himself for the forgiveness of our sins, and we eat Him, the new lamb. 

What the Church Fathers thought of the Eucharist

Summary: The early Church believed in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. 

Eucharistic Miracles

Summary: Sometimes, miraculously, the Eucharist visually turns into flesh and blood.

Anyway, it’s my hope that this post has sparked your interest in Catholicism. Catholicism has made such a massive difference in my life for the better; let it transform your life too.

Yours Truly,

A Young-Adult Catholic

Eucharistic Adoration and Reverence

All right guys. I really need to rant about something.

So, I walked into Adoration today at my parish, and the elderly folks were essentially having social hour. Basically, there was an older gentleman talking (using an outdoor voice) to another older gentleman across the church. My first thought was, the priest must not have put the Eucharist in the monstrance yet. So I looked at the altar and was shocked that the Eucharist was already exposed.

C’mon now! The Maker of Heaven and Earth, who died for our sins, is on the altar, and your back is to Him and you’re talking loudly?????? I was appallllllllled by this. There were some other people in the church too, and all but a few seemed to be part of this conversation.

So I kneeled down to pray and assumed things would quiet down. But they didn’t. I mean, after about 5 minutes they did, but in what context is it acceptable to have a loud, non-Jesus-oriented conversation at Adoration while others are trying to pray? If you really want to talk, fine, but go in the vestibule (i.e., lobby type area), or even better, outside.

Okay, so let me try to give them the benefit of the doubt. First thought: maybe they can’t hear well. I would have had more sympathy for them if they were standing right next to each other speaking loudly. But no, they were across the church (approximately 4 yards apart, I’d say). Second thought: maybe they’re talking about serious Jesus-related stuff. Unlikely, based on how unsolemn they were acting and how unhushed their voices were. Third thought: maybe one of them is the one doing all the talking and the rest are just kind of politely listening and wishing he’d stop. But based on how barely anyone else was making an attempt at prayer (ie, they were looking at the guy talking), I think not.

What bugged me most about this situation was that Jesus was not being paid proper reverence.

I have several other secondary concerns with regard to this situation:

First, why does my generation get the bad wrap? My generation is the one branded as irreverent. If a teenager had done what they did, everyone would have been giving them dirty looks and basically would have shunned them out of the Catholic Church. Why is it okay when an older person does it?

Second, sometimes I get the sense that some (though certainly not all) older Catholics think I don’t really belong in their Catholic club. When I walked into Adoration, the group looked at me and then looked away without smiling or anything. (Much later, and older woman came in and gave me a big smile, which I reciprocated – she made me feel like I belonged.) It seems to me that a lot of old Catholics complain about the fact that few young people are involved in the Church…but I don’t feel like we’re wanted by them anyway.

Third, what if someone new to Adoration had walked in when I did? What sort of impression would they have of the Eucharist? Based on the perceived lack of reverence in that church, you would never know that Jesus was up on that altar, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

But onto that subject again: the fact that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist — I would expect the Adoration crowd to know that doctrine. Why the irreverence? If Jesus walked into the church, I would really, really hope that you would stop having a social hour and start having a Holy Hour. Well, guess what? Jesus is really, truly present in the Eucharist; for all intents and purposes, Jesus has walked in.

My best guess is that these people have temporarily forgotten the significance of the Eucharist. We must never, never, never forget that the Eucharist is the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The Eucharist: Literal or Not?

Ah, the Eucharist….So. Much. Awesomeness. We Catholics are really lucky to have this wonderful Sacrament that brings Jesus very literally into our midst. 

Unlike most Protestant denominations, Catholicism teaches that in John 6, Jesus was speaking literally. We believe that Jesus commanded us to not merely remember him through a symbolic breaking of bread, but to literally eat His Flesh and drink His Blood. Like, for real. Crazy, right? I know, but it’s the truth. Here’s said section in John 6 from the New Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition (complements of https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+6) : 

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55 for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56 Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57 Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.” 59 He said these things while he was teaching in the synagogue at Capernaum. 60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” 61 But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But among you there are some who do not believe.” 

Observe a couple of things here. First, Jesus says we should eat of His Flesh. Okay, I can see how Protestants could be like, “Well, he was being symbolic.” I can totally see that possibility. But here we need to delve a bit deeper and consider some other things. 

In verse 57, the Bible manuscript uses the Greek word trogon for “eats.” In Greek, there are many words to express the verb “to eat.” This particular version means to “chew” or “gnaw.” (Thank you http://www.catholic.com/tracts/christ-in-the-eucharist). It seems like St. John used this very visceral verb to show us what Jesus meant. Furthermore, when the Jews “disputed among themselves,” Jesus isn’t like, “Jk guys, I’m just talking symbolically!” Instead He says, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

Still not satisfied? Well, kudos. I wasn’t either. I wasn’t sure that the Biblical evidence was 100% sound, although it did SEEM to support the Catholic view. I believed in the Real Presence of the Eucharist based on miracles, Sacred Tradition, and [sorry atheists] a feeling in my gut [which I find to actually be the most compelling of all evidence; it’s hard to understand unless you’ve experienced something like it]. 

But I do like my intellect to be entirely on board too. Cuz, like, dude, let’s be real here: Catholicism has a really vibrant intellectual history. If there’s a doctrine, there are loads of evidence and lucid reasoning for it. 

So, yesterday I was doing some detective work. And I found some cool stuff that I would like to share. I always figured that it would be super cool if I could find evidence of the belief in the Real Presence from the early Church. If people believed in the Real Presence from the start, then that would verify what Jesus says in John 6. This evidence would show that the early Church fathers must have gone around teaching new Christians to bless bread and wine so that the Spirit would convert it to the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Most importantly, this evidence would show that the Real Presence wasn’t something fabricated later on. (That sounds like something Dan Brown might claim.)

The first notable thing I came across was from a website belonging to Christianity Today, an Evangelical Christian magazine. Here’s the link to the article I found: http://www.ctlibrary.com/ch/1998/issue57/57h012.html. Anyway, this article amused me immensely because it was utterly contradictory if you really looked into it (and guys, seriously, look into things….the press can get away with a lot if you don’t scrutinize it). 

The first thing that sparked my interest: the article said that the Romans accused Christians of cannibalism. At which point I stroked my chin and metaphorical beard, and said, “Hmmmm…very interesting.” Why would the Romans accuse Christians of cannibalism unless they believed in something like the Real Presence of the Eucharist? Here’s what the article says about this:

The charge of cannibalism could also have arisen from a false understanding of the Christian Scripture and liturgy. The very words of the Eucharist,”Take and eat, this is my body broken for you,” could be misread in a literal, cannibalistic sense by a reader ignorant of the metaphor. 

There are a few problems with this statement. “Scripture” didn’t exist in the early days of the Church in the way we understand it today. First of all, the printing press hadn’t been invented yet, so Sacred Scripture was not mainstream—it’s not like the Romans could easily access the books of the Bible. Furthermore, the “Bible” hadn’t been compiled yet. Sure, there were epistles and gospels in circulation (the ones that are now in our Bible, plus others that were determined not to be divinely inspired at various Church councils), but the “Christian Scripture” mentioned in the excerpt is kind of ambiguous given the era we are talking about. Like, what Christian Scripture?

Chances are, the Romans who accused the Christians of cannibalism did not read Christian Scripture to solidify this charge. My guess would be that they heard this word-of-mouth. At this point, I will concede something. 

You could make the argument that maybe the Romans heard that the Christians said something about eating flesh and blood in the words of consecration…but oh, those silly Romans, they didn’t understand that the Christians were being symbolic! Oh, the ignorance! Well…..not so fast. 

Again, using inductive reasoning, the charge of cannibalism made it seem likely that the Christians of the early Church believed in the Real Presence, but this evidence still was not 100% convincing. 

Here’s where the article get contradictory. The basic outline of the article is that it describes the things the early Christian Church was charged for by the Romans, and then it explains how these charges were answered by the early Christians. The article explains that St. Justin Martyr wrote to the Roman authorities in The First Apology debunking the myth of cannibalism and explaining all things Christian. The article uses this excerpt from this work by St. Justin Martyr, who lived from 100 AD to 160 AD (props to Wikipedia for the years he was alive). In it, St. Justin Martyr explains the Eucharist in its earliest days:

When the president has given thanks and the whole congregation has assented, those whom we call deacons give to each of those present a portion of the consecrated bread and wine and water. … We do not, however, receive these things as common bread or common drink; but … we have been taught that the food consecrated by the word of prayer … is the flesh and blood of the incarnate Jesus and that washing of baptism was not a magical cleansing but an action symbolizing the cleansing action of God within the believer.

Here we have the perfect storm. St. Justin Martyr lived in the earliest days of Christianity. He recorded the details of the Eucharist, which seem to entirely support the Catholic belief in the Real Presence. Seriously….the guy is trying to explain how Christians aren’t cannibals. Yet, at no point does he back down about the fact that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ. (Side note: that doesn’t make us cannibals though!) 

Now for that bolded section. Seems a little off topic, am I right? I thought we were talking about the Eucharist and not Baptism. I feel like the author of the article in Christianity Today included this simply to get the “not a magical” and “symbolizing” parts in there. Sly. It seems like that’s there to emphasize the Protestant belief that the Eucharist isn’t magical and is purely symbolic. But don’t be fooled. Those buzz words apply to the discussion of Baptism, not the Eucharist. 

But one other problem….when I looked at The First Apology of St. Justin Martyr in a separate source, I couldn’t even find the bolded section! I understand that there could be different translations, but this is pretty major. There isn’t even anything like the bolded section in the chapter on the Eucharist. Here, see for yourself; this is the entire chapter on the Eucharist. (This text is from http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm.)

Chapter 66. Of the Eucharist

And this food is called among us Εὐχαριστία [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh. For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, This do in remembrance of Me, this is My body; and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, This is My blood; and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.

Upon reading this, several things are clear to me:

1) The author of the Christianity Today article did not support his point that the Eucharist is a mere “metaphor.”

2) St. Justin Martyr wrote about the Eucharist in the second century, which very much qualifies as the time of the “early Church.”

3) St. Justin Martyr, despite trying to debunk the charge that Christians are cannibals, doesn’t say, “Jk guys, it’s all symbolic; don’t worry!” Instead, he asserts the belief in the Real Presence.

Judging by points 2 and 3, it seems safe to says that the early Church believed in the Real Presence. The Real Presence is not some phenomenon fabricated by that heathen Catholic Church in some attempt to appeal to pagans. It’s not some misreading of the Bible–this belief existed long before the Bible was compiled and mainstream.

The Real Presence is an element of real Christianity. It’s as simple as that.

 

 

Hope you enjoyed this! Comment below if you know of other early Church documents supporting the Real Presence! 

Real Presence? Real Deal!

As Catholics, we sometimes take the Eucharist for granted. We take part in this incredible sacrament at least once a week, which sometimes makes us forget how special it is.

Many of our Protestant sisters and brothers don’t believe in the Real Presence of the Eucharist. They believe that Jesus gives us bread and wine to symbolically show his Sacrifice. But we Catholics believe that the Eucharist is literally, I repeat LITERALLY, the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I don’t really want to get into apologetics in this post, but if you want proof, check out John 6, the writings of the early church fathers and saints, metaphysics (explains how something can look like one thing but be another), and Eucharistic miracles.

Somehow, after all those years of religious ed, I never learned about the Real Presence. And I was paying attention in class too! So either A) I missed class on ALL the days they talked about it (unlikely), B) The teacher quickly mentioned it but didn’t make to big of a deal about it (possible), or C) the teacher didn’t mention it at all (also possible).

So then I have my Confirmation, God changes something in me, and all of the sudden I’m all Catholic and stuff. (I wasn’t really too Catholic before that–see my conversion story for more details. You kind find it on the menu on the left.) At that point I started researching Catholicism…and there was the Real Presence staring me in the face. And I had trouble accepting it for a while. After all, it IS pretty mind-boggling. After a lot of research, I started to accept it more. Then learning about Eucharistic miracles helped me. Prayer also helped. The biggest cause for my belief in the Real Presence was undoubtedly the faith in the Church I was granted during my Confirmation. I had my conversion experience in the Catholic Church. My life changed for the better because of a Catholic Sacrament. The Catholic Church teaches Truth, Real Presence included.

Then I started noticing life experiences that have lead me to believe further.

For example, why does if feel so special when you walk into a Catholic church, even when no one is sitting in the pews? Even when it’s dark in there? Shouldn’t it just be an empty room that elicits no feeling? No! Because Jesus is there in the tabernacle!

Why do I think to myself come Thursday or Friday, “Boy, I could really go for Mass about now!”

Why do I feel “off” if I go to Sunday Mass instead of my usual Saturday vigil? Why does seven days with out the Eucharist seem so much longer than six?

Why is sitting in Adoration for two hours not boring? Why is it so incredibly peaceful? Plain-old bread can’t do that.

Next time the Eucharistic minister or priest or deacon says, “The Body of Christ,” remember what you are consuming.

But don’t forget to say “Amen.” 🙂

Challenge Yourself Spiritually!

When we experience personal growth in any facet of life, that growth didn’t just come out of nowhere.

“I was passing the days solely sleeping, watching TV, playing video games, and hanging out with friends, you know, all the things that bring me personal comfort. Didn’t do anything I didn’t feel like doing. And then as a result of this careful preparation, I discovered the meaning of life as I sat on my couch eating Doritos and watching ‘The Hangover,'”

SAID NO ONE EVER!

Growth is usually the result of some sort of challenge in our life. Let’s look at it from a non-religious angle:

When I was 11, my dad said we had to move 7 hours away! It was a really, really difficult time for me. In retrospect, I see that this change in my life helped me to be more adaptable. It also helped me to realize that the “unknown” isn’t that scary after all.

There are so many challenges that pop up in the lives of teens today. Examples include: moving, death of a loved one, divorce of parents, academics, drama with friends, bullying, body image, etc.
Usually these challenges ultimately lead to some sort of personal growth after some reflection.

So, if we want to advance in our spiritual lives, what are doing just staying in our comfort zones!? We need to challenge ourselves! And I think Catholicism offers so many excellent challenges that lead to spiritual growth.

Reconciliation. Is that comfortable? No– admitting sins isn’t terribly comfortable. But we grow so much when we realize God’s infinite mercy and forgiveness. We realize how much we need Him in our lives. Sounds like growth!

The Real Presence. Comfortable? No– you saw how so many people left Jesus in John 6 when He was basically like, “Guys, you gotta eat me if you want life in you. No, seriously. For the third time, I mean it.” But through receiving Christ in the Eucharist and resting in His presence at Eucharistic Adoration, we come to understand how amazing He is. Growth- check!

The Obligation to go to Mass every week and on days of Holy Obligation. Comfortable? Not 100% of the time. Some days we just don’t FEEL like going to Mass. But by going, we commit ourselves to God. We suppress our human desire to be lazy, realizing that God is more important. Yay growth!

Required days of fasting (Ash Wed and Good Fri for Catholics 18 and over) and abstinence (no meat on Fridays during Lent and on Ash Wed). Comfortable? No– Most people love eating. But by following what the Church has outlined for us, we understand that our carnal desires aren’t everything and that God is worth the suffering (even though it’s actually not TOO much suffering when you consider that people go hungry EVERY day of their lives in third world countries). Growth: now dat’s what I’m talkin’ about!

The list continues.

Sometimes things like fasting and the obligation to go to Mass get dismissed as unnecessary “works.”

James 2:17–
“So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.”

AMEN! You say it James!

You can have faith in Christ, but if you aren’t doing things to show it and further it…sounds like a pretty dead spiritual life with a paucity of personal growth on the side.

So go out there and challenge yourself this summer!!

“The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort; you were made for greatness.”
~Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Catholic Humor #1

Just replace “at the Last Supper” with “at Capernaum,” and then it’s perfect. Picture Sourc: http://9gag.com/gag/5166663

Did you get the joke?

If not, let me clear it up for you.

This image plays on one of the most (if not THE most) significant aspect of Catholic teaching: the Real Presence of the Eucharist.

Every Mass, we consume the Eucharist, which is the Body and Blood of Christ. Like, for real. It really is His Body and Blood. (While it keeps the appearance of bread and wine, in its very essence it IS Jesus.) I know, I know…it’s a tough thing to swallow (pun intended).

Depending on how much you know about Catholicism, maybe you’re thinking to yourself, “Say what? Sounds a little like cannibalism to me…”

Yeah, it sounds bizarre and it might not make sense to our meager human minds. But how can we possibly understand all of God’s doings through human reason? We can’t. That’s where faith comes in. And it’s not blind faith, mind you.

There’s so much evidence for the Real Presence of the Eucharist. All sorts of Eucharist miracles have happened through the ages: levitating hosts, hosts turning to actual human flesh before parishioners’ eyes, people living for decades on the Eucharist alone…

But the joke in the above picture is based on the Biblical evidence for the Real Presence. John 6 is the place. In this part of the Bible, Jesus is teaching that people must eat His flesh and drink His blood to have eternal life. And a lot of those listening are confused and even leave him because they think what he’s saying is outrageous. Let’s take a look at this part of John 6 from the New American Bible (http://old.usccb.org/nab/bible/john/john6.htm):

48I am the bread of life.49Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died;50this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.51I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.52The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us (his) flesh to eat?”53Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.54Whoever eats 19 my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.55For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.56Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.57Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me.58This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever.”59These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.6020 Then many of his disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”61Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, “Does this shock you?62What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 2163It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh 22 is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.64But there are some of you who do not believe.” Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him.65And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father.”66As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him.

The above image is based off of Jesus’s conversation in John 6, as you can now see.

In the image, “Yahweh” (another name for God) means “Yeah way.”

Pretty funny, huh? 🙂